Waterboarding: A Tortured History





The surprisingly contentious confirmation process of Michael Mukasey, President Bush's pick for attorney general, has come down to one issue: waterboarding. Mukasey has called waterboarding personally "repugnant," but said he did not know enough about how it has been used to define it as torture.

The Washington debate over the simulated-drowning technique may be new, but the practice is not. It predates the Inquisition and has been used, off and on, around the world ever since.

Its use was first documented in the 14th century, according to Ed Peters, a historian at the University of Pennsylvania. It was known variously as "water torture," the "water cure" or tormenta de toca — a phrase that refers to the thin piece of cloth placed over the victim's mouth.


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Vernon Clayson - 11/8/2007

If it has been used for 6 centuries it must be effective. Let's see some records on how many instances resulted in death. It is no doubt frightening but it gives the subject the chance to alleviate his suffering, he can talk, but the throat cuttings practiced by the Muslims offer no such respite. It is a childish argument meant only to discredit George Bush. Harry Reid's attacks on him are not quite as painful but are equally torturous and there is no way to stop the process, old Searchlight Harry just keeps poring it on.